The first reviews are in for BMW’s big four door crossover coupe:
It takes some serious commitment to generate the understeer that eventually arrives, and as a session on a test track reveals, planting the accelerator at this point actually has the car tightening its line as more power is fed to the front axle and it hauls itself around.
In truth you need a circuit to find this out, although it’s a characteristic that’s also useful on snow, say BMW’s development drivers. Torque-vectoring across the rear axle also heightens this X6’s impressive agility, as well as an all-wheel drive system that apportions 60 per cent of the engine’s effort to the rear wheels unless otherwise required.
A shame that the steering is almost bereft of feel despite the massive forces that must sometimes bear on its mechanism; better news is that it’s precise and solidly weighted.
If you thought the previous BMW X6 was vulgar, then the new version isn’t likely to change your mind. BMW has worked hard to improve its practicality, fuel consumption and dynamics, but while the X6 is more capable than ever, it still lacks any real excitement from behind the wheel – making it more of a status symbol than a true driver’s car.
You really need to spend some time on a track to appreciate how well the X6 drives. Sure, the X6 is just fine on the road, but it’s missing that special something that makes you lust after a car. Grabbing the big X6 by the scruff of its neck and wringing it out reveals just how tremendously capable the rolling fashion statement is. After spending the morning driving the X6 from northern South Carolina to southern North Carolina where the trip’s highlight was eating a eclair and staving off jetlag with some coffee, I spent the afternoon doing exercises in the X6 at BMW’s performance driving center at the urging of a young Bimmer chassis engineer. As he put it, the track would reveal what was truly great about the new X6.
And he was right, for the most part. The first exercise we did in our white X6 xDrive50i tester was a simple, short autocross course. The course consisted of slalom, a hairpin turn, a straightaway, and a stop box. Like I said: short. Given the course, I set the X6 in Sport + mode, engaged launch control, and rocketed forward. The X6 proved surprisingly nimble through the course. It weaved in and out of the slalom faster than any 2.5-ton machine ought to. Don’t get me wrong – the big BMW certainly feels every one of those 2.5 tons, but that mass is well-managed, thanks in no small part to active anti-roll bars. The only weak point appeared to be the Bimmer’s brakes, which started to fade after five or six straight runs through the course. And just for the record, I did have a go on the autocross course in EcoPro mode – I wouldn’t recommend that.